Circumcision; Yes or No?

When I found out I was going to be having a boy 2 years ago, one of the first questions that plagued me for months was whether or not to have him circumcised.  I posed the question on this blog seeking advice and instead got lectured by both sides of this controversial debate.  Like politics, lines had been drawn in the sand and to cross them made you a traitor to t’other.  Those pro-circ referred to the penis’ foreskin as “stinky cheese” and “a breeding ground for disease and bacteria.”  Those anti-circ accused me of wanting to “mutilate my son” and that I must want to have sexual relations with my son as all I am doing is “making his penis more attractive to me.”  You can read the original post and part of the conversation here.  The entire conversation made me ill…both sides were shouting and it was clear that in order for me to make a decision I would need to shut everyone up and do my own research.  So I stopped the conversation by ending the capability for comments, stepped away from the conversation for a while, and when my head was cool…I did some research.  After a plethora of reading, talking to a number of other friends with kids, talking to other fathers, talking with my wife, and taking time…my wife and I made up our mind about what was the right decision for our son.  That decision is private.

As much as I loved being called names, chastised, and receiving death threats (for a decision I hadn’t made!) I am going to re-open the conversation in light of the American Academy of Pediatrics‘ decision Monday to change their stance on circumcision saying “Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.”  The Academy goes on to say “Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it.”  For the full statement please click here.

In the comment section of this post please tell us your thoughts bearing in mind that many of my readers are fathers-to-be facing the same decisions I’ve faced.  My readers are international so what’s right for the American might be left for the Australian.  As well, this is a conversation so please take a moment to read the comments left by others before diving in…the point you want to make may have just been made.  Please keep in mind religious aspects, be respectful, and no name calling.  Any comments that veer from “conversation mode” to “tirade” or “lecture” will not be approved (as in the initial conversation).  Everyone is entitled to their opinion and opinions are not wrong…they may be different from your opinion…but they are still opinions.

Allow me to start the conversation:  While the decision I made for my son is now (and always will be) private – my stance is not:  I believe the right decision, when it comes to circumcising or not, is whatever decision the parents make.  Parenting is making decisions about the unknown.  Your decisions will have affect on your child both positive and negative…but you still have to make a decision.  Look to your parents, your friends, your family and the right answer for you in this situation (and all situations) will present itself.  To quote the concluding sentence of the policy statement released yesterday by the Academy, “Parents ultimately should decide whether circumcision is in the best interests of their male child. They will need to weigh medical information in the context of their own religious, ethical, and cultural beliefs and practices.  The medical benefits alone may not outweigh these other considerations for individual families.”

The conversation is reopened.

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53 thoughts on “Circumcision; Yes or No?

  1. Usually boys are circumcised because their father has been for either religious or cultural reasons. There is some protective effect of circumcision by reducing the risk of urinary tract infection in the first year of life. From studies in Africa where HIV is rampant, there is a definite protective effect in reducing the spread of HIV in circumcised men. It is unlikely that this will change people minds in people who are either pro or anti circumcision.

    1. Sandy, I agree that people who have taken a stance on one side or the other will not be swayed by this…but what about researching parents-to-be out there like I was 2 years ago? They are undecided. How do you think this will affect their decisions for the good/bad?

      1. I was born in Europe raised in India, S.E. Asia & Central West Africa before coming to US & joining US Navy Hospital Corps. As a child in those countries I saw a greater number of uncircumcised boys with infections or other problems than those that were circumcised. In the service I saw more problems with uncircumcised than circumcised & when as adult circumcision was required to treat problems the adults suffered a lot more than an infant and have the memory, Also having gone through 2 typhoons in us with loss of power & clean water uncircumcised family members {born & Raised in USA} started to develop problems that those of us who were circumcised did not. So in ideal circumstances where one can be guaranteed of power/clean water/access to good hygiene etc … 24/7/365 then I would look at things like rates of penile & cervical cancer in partners of uncircumcised VS circumcised. HOWEVER just on fact that in real life I can not be guarantied power/ clean water and availability of all hygiene resources 24/7/365 I am glad I was circumcised. My son born in USA who was circumcised as baby had some experience in USA that resulted in him telling me that some of the things he experienced & saw made him grateful that I had him circumcised as a baby, It is up to the parents but consider that most doctors and their studies in all probability do not cover all the conditions encountered outside of their standard of 24/7/365 full access hygiene, water, or power.

    2. Actually, circumcision in no way effects the spread of HIV. In the US, approximately 70% of sexually active men are circumcised, and the HIV rate is significantly higher than in Europe and Asia, where less than 10% of men are circumcised. And since the circumcision campaign in Africa has began, HIV rates have sky rocketed, because the people believe circumcised men cannot contract or spread HIV, which is insane. HIV doesn’t care whether you have a foreskin or not. Safe sex is the only way to prevent HIV.

  2. This was a big decision for us when we had Chance too. During my training as a physician, I have both performed circumcisions and seen uncircumcised boys with urinary tract infections and phimosis. To me, the newborns didn’t really seem to be in pain while they were having the procedure and the thought of Chance having to undergo a circumcision as an older child or adult due to complications made me lean slightly toward having the procedure. However, as a new mom, I didn’t really want my perfect baby to be cut or put through any unnecessary trauma. My husband was under the belief that being circumcised was more “socially acceptable” or more attractive. I really did not have a preference in this regard and reminded him that the rates of circumcision in the US are steadily decreasing.

    In the end, we decided to go through with the procedure. Now, I will say that is something that we deeply regret. As soon as he came back from being circumcised it was clear to me that he was in pain. For the next 3 weeks, every time we changed his diaper he was in pain. Even the slightest bit of urine in his diaper seemed to be irritating to his wound. His wound looked awful even though it was “healing fine”. It broke our hearts to think that all of this was unnecessary and could have been avoided simply by our decision.

    After our experience, we have vowed not to circumcise any future sons we may have. The true test will come if that situation ever should arise. I still think this is a parent’s decision, but even with the best research and intentions you might end up regretting your decision.

    1. Maris,
      Thank you for sharing your story about Chance, I think it really sheds light for parents who are undecided in this. When and if you have another boy it would be great if you would share your thoughts the second time around on this blog and tell us what the decision making process was like then. Parenting takes courage because you are making decisions for a person who relies on you, regretting a decision is haunting…but sharing that regret is courageous as well so others can make their own decisions hearing from your personal experience. Thank you for sharing.

  3. How to decide whether or not you should circumcise your son. Step 1, is the penis your property, a part of your body? If yes, then you make the choice based on your religious and social viewpoint. If no, DON’T. Simple. The only person who gets to decide on cosmetic vaginal surgery is the woman the vagina is attached too. Men deserve the same courtesy. Not your penis? Not your choice. Freedom of religion doesn’t entitle you to cut parts off of other humans, ever. Being a parent doesn’t grant you liberty to cosmetically and surgically alter your child, ever. Considering over 80% of the world’s male population is intact and less than 2% of those intact men ever have foreskin related problems, the cleanliness and health “issues” are moot points. Any penis is dirty if not cared for, foreskin or not. Cleaning an intact newborn is much less work than cleaning a circumcised newborn. There’s no open wound. You just clean the outside of the penis like a finger, you never retract the foreskin, it’s fused to the penis until puberty. By then, the boy can retract and clean on his own. He will never ever care if his father’s penis looks like his, any more than a girl wants her vagina to match her mother’s.

  4. I would just like to say “thank you” for opening up a discussion so people at least think about the decision and this may lead some people to do more independent research. I feel the AAP’s recent decision is based mostly in greed. If circumcision really curtailed STDs and AIDS, then why does the US have one of the highest rates of both in the developed world? Doctors, hospitals and medical supply companies make a lot of money from cutting newbord babies’ genitals.They then sell foreskins to cosmetic companies. Medicare and insurance companies had stopped paying for it and so the AAP adjusted their stance. kind of a coincidence…. as far as cleanliness – teach your son to clean himself, just like you teach him to brush his teeth and wipe his butt. until he is about 5 or older, there is no extra care when they are babies. Another interesting statistic is the issude of ED in the US. there are studies that link ED with circumscision. And when you look at the instances of it in the US vs other countries who don’t have a 50% or higher circ rate, its a pretty good correlation. I kept my son whole and intact and we have not had any issues. i am very glad he is not scarred for cosmetic purposes. to me, there is not much difference between circumcision and fmale genital mutilation – there are laws against cutting a bay girls’ genitals, but not a baby boys’. why is it ok to do to our boys but not our girls?

  5. I have two sons. I knew from the moment I found out they were boys that they would be left intact. My thought was that these two beautiful babies know nothing but the warmth and love of my body it is my job to protect them and I will to the best of my ability. I will not be the cause of the pain that they would feel from this, in my and a lot of others’ minds, completely unnecessary cosmetic surgery. I have never regretted my decision. I would hope that other parents to be could just put themselves into the baby’s shoes and imagine the pain and confusion. It’s not my penis…it’s theirs. It’s their decision to make. I know in my heart that I did the right thing for my wonderful babies.

    1. Well said April. I’ve found in my research that mothers either feel very strongly about this decision or that they share online more. Do you think fathers (sorry Dads for the generalization) don’t put as much emotional thought into it? I think Dads tend to have a “that’s how my Dad did it so that’s how I’m gonna do it” attitude to parenting at times while mothers tend to approach parenting with new eyes as they have been (and will continue to be) the nurturer of life. In this scenario Dads may look at circumcision to be “If I’m circumcised then my son will be circumcised,” or “I’m intact so my son will be too.” Are mothers more objective to their newborns than fathers? I’m just postulating here. What do you think? Anyone else care to weigh in?

      1. I don’t think I’m more objective. My dad was cut but my brother wasn’t, this is due to my mom being Swiss and it really isn’t a part of Swiss culture.

        So I think my bias towards non-cutting is just as cultural.

        I’m also kind of an au naturel person in general. I figure its there for a reason. I’m not into extreme body mods, as a rule, though if other people want to do it, that’s up to them.

        I figure give your kid a clean slate and they’ll decide if they want to be cut/get inked/get pierced/get one of those hole things in their ears/get neck rings/ whatever.

        I do have pierced ears but I’m glad my mom didn’t do it to me as a baby. I got them when I was old enough to ceaselessly nag and beg for them.

  6. The way I see it: We make a lot of choices for our kids, but I see no reason why the removal of healthy body parts needs to be one of them. We can apply the same logic to all body parts, but it would be barbaric. The appendix is an organ which no doctor can decide the function of, it can rupture and kill us, and often is taken out during emergency surgery – but we never suggest to take this out of our children.

    HIV is more effectively prevented with safe sex, monogamy and abstinence. UTI’s are rare in boys and easily treated with antibiotics. Penile cancer is very rare only 1 in 100,000 men get it, and that number includes circumcised men. Hygiene is not usually a problem in uncircumcised nor circumcised guys, intact babies are easy to care for (if intact, do not retract, only clean, what is seen). In teenagers and adults, it takes half a second to retract the foreskin and rinse under it once per day (retract, rinse, replace).

    The foreskin is still an important part of the male anatomy to date, since the glans do not produce their own oils (sebum) the foreskin is need to keep the skin soft and supple, and therefore sensitive. The rest of our skin produces these oils (which prevents it from drying out) the glans in circumcised men tend to be dry and rough, this is because the protective function of the foreskin has been taken away.

    When we remove body parts from non-consenting humans, we usually do it for one of 2 reasons:

    1. Emergencies – if the body part is causing a health problem, and it is important for the life of the non-consenting person to have it removed (as in it is a life and death situation) then a body part may be removed.

    2.The last resort treatment – if someone has a medical issue with a body part, we would usually try creams, antibiotics, pain killers, therapies and small surgeries to cure it before we would even consider the removal of that body part.

    Foreskin is still an important part of the correct functioning of the penis, it has many functions as well as the observable protective and sexual functions.

    Ultimately, when we are considering the removal of healthy body parts, that choice should be for the owner of the body part in question. The child has the right to keep all his healthy body parts, and should only have to deal with the removal of a body part if it was a medical emergency or a last resort treatment, apart from these things foreskin is in no way deadly enough to consider the immediate removal of said body part. Many intact men live long and healthy lives with little to no penile problems.

    I have read and researched this issue, and I maintain the stance that, this is a human rights issue: His body, His choice. 🙂

  7. Great discussion so far! Reading the statement it seems like the “purpose” of it is less about the Academy’s stance on circumcision and more about how if a parent chooses to have their child circumcised the procedure should be covered by insurance. Thoughts?

    1. Your reading agrees with mine. Parents should be free to have a boy cut or not, for any reason. If they choose to cut, they should not be out of pocket for it. The real target of the AAP’s policy is not the American foreskin, but the 18 states whose Medicaid plans do not reimburse RIC.

      The AAP’s stance constitutes a complete abdication of the medical profession’s duty to research, to think things through, to not reenforce urban myths and prejudices, in short, to lead.

      Never forget that the typical middle doctor or medical school prof is either a circumcised male, or married to one. This middle aged American elite simply cannot conceive of how the bits ablated by circumcision enhance his and her sexual pleasure and functionality. Circumcision is grounded in inadequate knowledge of how Nature intended sex to work. Any modern young women who has dated Latinos or foreign born men is in a good position to learn how a movable foreskin enhances sex and foreplay. These things are forever denied to heterosexual men, who are fated to experience only one kind of penis, namely the kind they happen to have. Thus I realised some years ago that my wife knows more about dick than I do.

  8. Ryan, You started the discussion with, “I believe the right decision, when it comes to circumcising or not, is whatever decision the parents make.” I guessing from the context, that you mean just boys. So, unless you really mean boys and girls, that means you’ve just taken a stance on equal rights, making your statement is sexist.

    You might want to take a moment before invoking a knee jerk reaction. You see, the same tissue that is removed in the most common form of male genital cutting is the prepuce (foreskin), which is the same tissue excised in the most common form of female genital cutting (clitoral hood). You see, both come from the exact same fetal tissue and, only because of genetics and hormones, develops into one or the other.

    Sometimes in forms into a myriad of intermediate forms and the child is called intersexed. This begs the question, exactly where do you, Ryan, draw the line between when it is OK and not OK to cut that normal, healthy tissue off?

    1. Hi Dan, thank you for attacking me instead of joining the conversation, I particularly liked your quote “making your statement is sexist.” Just give an opinion without attacking someone dude, calm down. This isn’t the WWE of circumcision where we’re gonna start throwing chairs and someone will emerge victorious…its an educational conversation, and if you can’t play nice I’ll have to “draw the line” at your next comment and circumcise you from the conversation. Now…wanna come sit at the grown-up table and join in?

    2. Also Dan, you wouldn’t happen to be Dan Bollinger of the Intact America’s Steering Committee and Director of the International Coalition of Genital Integrity (ICGI)…would you? Is this how ICGI educates? By attacking moderators in a blog conversation?

      1. Frankly, I don’t even feel comfortable getting involved in this any more. I was hoping this would be what you said, a conversation, but I fear that anything I post will be subject to attack. I agree with you Ryan, this is a personal isssue involving only the parents, and tiny penis, in question.

      2. Lorna,
        All comments have to go through approval and so far not a single one has been removed…the only person who has been attacked is me…by Dan Bollinger of the Intact America’s Steering Committee and Director of the International Coalition of Genital Integrity (ICGI). It is a conversation and you deserve to be heard, because you have an opinion. Opinions are never wrong…they are opinions. If you don’t feel comfortable saying more that’s fine, I understand, I’ve gotten used to being attacked for asking people to talk about subjects like this. Thank you for being comfortable enough to tell us what you have.

      3. “Opinions are never wrong…they are opinions”

        Be careful there Ryan. Everyone is entitled to an opinion, but that doesn’t mean that all opinions are equally valid/correct. If all opinions are equally valid, then all opinions are equally useless. As facts come to bear on a discussion they weed out bad opinions from good ones.

      4. I agree. However, having moderated discussions like this before I want to encourage people to feel okay to express their opinion. I’m trying to give both sides a place to speak so others who are researching may compare opinions and fact. If one side was all fact and the other was all opinion there would be no need for a discussion…because there would only be fact. But that isn’t the case…there are facts and opinions on both sides. The opinion is what is up for discussion here, the facts are what back up one’s decision, and the fact is people are entitled to their opinions. There is very little validity in someone saying something like “cats are the source of light in the universe,” (though that may be their opinion) but there is validity in someone saying “Its my opinion that circumcision is wrong,” or saying “it’s my opinion that circumcision is right.” Geese and ganders…they both honk. 😉

      5. Ryan:

        I might have an opinion is that the moon is made of green cheese! Now no proof or evidence is required to hold an opinion, but how valid is that opinion in the absence of evidence.

      6. Having watched Wallace and Gromit’s “A Grand Day Out” we learned that while the moon is made of cheese…it is like no cheese Wallace has ever tasted. Lunar Cheese. Having never been to the moon myself I can’t confirm this but I know that I would be careful of skiing robots while up there. If it is your opinion that the moon is made of green cheese, that is your opinion.

      7. I’m a dad who’s had to make these difficult decisions for his sons without the benefit of the internet’s plethora of info -both good and bad. That said, I think Dan’s comment wasn’t particularly out of line. The question of why we condone male genital cutting yet condemn female genital cutting is valuable in that it allows people to inspect the cultural baggage they bring to this question.

  9. You have said the circumcision decision should be made by the parents. Why not let the child make the decision when he is of age?

    Courts in Canada, Australia, and Germany have ruled that parents are not empowered to grant consent for the non-therapeutic amputation of body parts from the genital organs of children, according to Doctors Opposing Circumcision.

    Here is a commentary on the new AAP 2012 Circumcision Policy Statement that I think is well worth reading.

    http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/pdf/2012-08-26A_Commentary.pdf

    It appears that the AAP’s new statement is designed to promote more business for doctors. The medical information is distorted to that end.

    The ethics are similarly distorted to make non-therapeutic circumcision of children appear to be an ethical practice, while, in reality, it is hugely unethical.

    Parents should not be deceived by this attempt to get more money for doctors.

    1. George makes a good point, is the decision ours (as parents) to make in the first place? I have spoken to men who were given the option when they were men and some have stayed intact while others elected to be circumcised. Very good point George and a something I think every parent needs to ask themselves when faced with the question of circumcising an infant, “is this my decision to make?” Playing Devil’s advocate, if a child were born with a large birthmark on their body that poses no immediate threat nor future threat (though has a possibility for complications)…but it could easily be removed, and routinely was, would one? Different social circumstances than circumcision I understand…just posing a tangent to the group. Anyone?

      1. I think it’s more important to teach your child to love the body they’re given than to surgically alter them to “fit in”, so no, I wouldn’t have a large birth mark removed from my child. I think everyone deserves the right to bodily autonomy.

      2. Someone once posed a similar question to me with two analogies. The first was with cleft palette. Should this be surgically corrected for at birth or shortly after? The second was with webbed toes.

        My response to the cleft palette is that it diminishes the well-being of the child because it distorts or destroys function (specifically, breast feeding becomes very difficult the more severe the cleft palette is). So the surgery is correcting for a defect that has occurred, which has caused a loss of function. The surgery *restores* function.

        For the webbed toes I’m rather ambivalent. They neither help nor hinder the child’s development, and they are easy enough to hide from other kids if you’re worried about teasing (how often are we looking at each others’ toes, really?). Aside from that, maybe the kid would like their webbed toes when they grow up? And at that point they can make the choice whether they want to keep their webbing or have it snipped. Since webbed toes neither confer a function or remove one (unless you like learning to write with your feet), there’s no reason to remove them before the age of consent; they are function-neutral.

        So how do these compare to male genital cutting? It takes a bit from each. The foreskin isn’t a birth defect like the cleft palette is, and it’s removal diminishes function rather than restores it, so it can’t be considered medically necessary on those grounds. Similarly to the webbed toes, if the child grows into a young adult and wishes to alter their body, I don’t think the law should stand in their way. I’ll think they’re foolish, and will spend vast reservoirs of energy to change their mind, but ultimately it’s that person’s decision; I can’t force them, and nor should I.

  10. Hello again Ryan. I was one of the people who wrote to you 2 years ago. First of all, you are to be applauded for putting out so many questions and researching thoroughly these many aspects of child raising. Far too many people ignorantly drift along and trust the system. I wish there were more people as intelligent and questioning as you. Also, I identify with your determination to write you thoughts down. I too have been a writer and find writing highly cathartic and healing. A different side of my persona comes out in written words. I share that type of energy with you.
    I don’t know what I can add here beyond what I already said in 2010, or what others have said, except to reassure you that I don’t believe any of us, including Mr. Bollinger, deliberately intend to attack you personally. The fact that the American public is normally appalled at the idea of cutting the genitals of baby girls but nonchalant about doing the same to baby boys is simply a reflection of our cultural blindness and is not personally your fault. It is difficult to step out of ones own culture to question our actions, even when other types of actions in other cultures seem abhorrent to us.
    I was one of the “Grandmothers” of the ongoing concern over infant circumcision, beginning my work roughly 35 years ago when there were only a handfull of us writing, phoning and snail mailing about this. Today we are seeing a tidal surge of protest about the AAP’s narrow sighted conclusion that has ignored matters such as horrific complications, trauma to a sensitive, vulnerable infant, protective and sensual functions of the foreskin and respect for the child’s body ownership.
    You can read many of my writings and those of others on my own website: http://peacefulbeginningsrosemary.wordpress.com . I wish you and your family the best in your journey of parenting. – Rosemary Romberg
    P.S. One of my sons is also named Ryan. Love that name!

    1. Hi Rosemary! Thanks for chiming in again, great to have a voice from the first conversation. It is strange how Americans (some) see male circumcision as normal and female circumcision as mutilation. Why do you think that is? Our medical associations? Religion?

      1. Genesis 17 speaks to males, and is silent about women. We goyim of other continents live in the shadow of that fact.

  11. This young father sounds like a kind soul. He left his second son intact, after learning more about circumcision. As a father, you might like to hear what he has to say.

    “This is an interview with a circumcised American dad. He talks about how he first learned about circumcision, and how he feels about it now. He also talks about what it is like having a circumcised son and an intact son, and why he chose to leave his future sons intact.”

  12. I wonder how the debate would change if a health organization said something like this:
    Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of FEMALE BREAST TISSUE REMOVAL IN ADOLESCENT FEMALES outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it.” The Academy goes on to say “Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine BREAST TISSUE REMOVAL for all ADOLESCENT FEMALES, the benefits of BREAST TISSUE REMOVAL are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it.
    Do you get the point I’m trying to make? Why don’t we just allow parents to remove any part of their child’s body that could potentially be a problem in the future?

    What’s the harm in letting your child make the decision about whether or not they would like parts of their bodies removed? It’s not like your putting your child at a greater risk of dying if you don’t circumcise them as a newborn.

  13. Two very interesting, actually brilliant posts I have received recently from new parents and parents of adolescents tell sad tales of having had original opinions changed by tragedy.
    The first from a new mother who witnessed not only as Maris McIntyre (Aug 29, 9:27 am) did, her newborn son’s acute post traumatic suffering (most have such pain they scream for 6 – 8 hours afterwards if they have not been rendered semi-comatose), but she also saw the procedure through a glass nursery window and heard him screaming from two rooms away. Her insightful question was “Why are parents given the right to make this ‘decision’?” This is not a ‘decision’ it is manipulation by a doctor who choses to perform harm that does not belong in medicine and knows he can snag another fee especially if the father is circumcised and feels compelled to have his son look like him.
    Her conclusion is that doctors should be forbidden from performing it. Circumcision is a 1.8 B industry in the U.S. and four expensive new devices for circumcising have just been released onto the market. Any wonder the AAP just coincidentally is insisting on parents being given a right to ‘decide’?
    The second comment is from a circumcised man in his forties, six weeks into foreskin restoration, after realizing the progressive desensitization caused by circumcision as an infant is not going to go away on it’s own. Some men realize this during adolescence, but the dismay is always the same. His comment is “I would gladly have experienced any taunting in a locker room as a teen if being intact means performing adequately in the bedroom for the rest of my life.” He has two daughters and is glad not to have been saddled with remorse for causing similar losses to his children. Another opinion gleaned from bitter experience.
    An eloquent opinion by a twenty-two year old medical student, the most articulate, intelligent expression on this issue I have heard in over fifty years of helping parents learn and integrate reliable medical info on the value of the foreskin:
    http://barreloforanges.com/2012/07/17/the-unspoken-aspects-of-having-a-foreskin-a-guest-post-by-life-intact/ Another pediatric association statement – the Dutch Medical Association: http://www.knmg.nl/circumcision One of the long term adverse effects cited as reason for avoiding circumcision is that it causes panic attacks. (See conclusion). This sequella is confirmed by a Jewish doctor, Mark D Reiss: http://www.doctorsopposingcircumcision.org/DOC/mposition.html     “Circumcision, My Position”   and in his youtube presentation on circumcision bias and complications:
    ► 3:27► 3:7 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ruJ62wHpHuw
    And last but not least! An thrilling (to us) comment on i4SkinHealth, the iPhone app colleagues and I produced to help restorers 18 mos ago:
    i4SkinHealth Available on the iTunes Store Under Health and Fitness and Lifestyle Rating and Review 23 October 2011 Well written – ★★★★★by Hopeful Dad777 – Version 1.0.0 – 23 October 2011
    A very complete well researched app that brings very valuable information to the world of mothers and fathers to be about what the foreskin is for and how it is designed to work. I watched a video of an actual circumcision being done and was shocked by how much that baby screamed! I’ll be damned if I let Anyone harm my child that way. I am restoring my foreskin and this great app helps me keep track and reach my goal. Just like couch to 5k I hope this app helps thousands reach the body that they want. Buy it and discover the truth. It will set you free.

    1. The actual truth is that parents should not have a right to choose circumcision in the absence of a compelling medical reason to circumcise.

      The common law is that parental powers are there to provide for the needs of the child. If a child does not have a need for a therapeutic circumcision, then the power to grant consent does not exist.

      Back in 1975, when the law of informed consent was just being instituted, four pediatricians who constituted the AAP’s “ad hoc task force on circumcision, improperly applied to the rules for surrogate consent for therapeutic operations to non-therapeutic circumcision. The alleged parental right to consent was an error — one that been repeated ever since.

      The typical infant male circumcision a a non-therapeutic operation. Children are born with healthy foreskins. No disease of any kind is present and there are no medical indications. There is nothing to be treated.

      The medical associations want parents to have the power to consent, so doctors can continue to make a nice income doing circumcisions and because the legal liability is thereby transferred from the doctor to the parent.

      The Cologne, Germany Regional Court correctly ruled that parents are NOT empowered to consent to non-therapeutic circumcision, however that decision was not popular with Muslims and Jews.

  14. I am circumcised; my two sons are not.

    Ryan, I would actually like to hear your answer to the question, ‘Do you still believe a parent’s decision is the right decision when it comes to mutilating female genitalia?’ I’m not attacking you. I would just like to hear if you would still believe ‘the parent’s decision is the right decision.’

    In the case of male or female genitalia mutilation, I do not agree that the parent’s decision is the right decision, whatever that may be. I believe it’s quite barbaric to mutilate the genitalia of either a boy or girl, especially for social or religious reasons. If it was actually for legitimate, scientifically verifiable, medically necessary or advantageous reasons, then I would agree that whatever a parent’s decision is the right decision.

    I like the cleft pallette analogy. A medically necessary or advantageous procedure should be a procedure like a cleft pallette in which there is a DEFECT which needs to be corrected so a kid can survive or live a significantly more comfortable life. I understand that some people could stretch the concept of ‘medically advantageous’ to include genital mutilation, including female genitalia mutilation.

    I believe the biggest problem is education. People are generally not informed on the topic, and the little information they choose to absorb, usually supports their desire to either circumcise or not circumcise their child for social or religious reasons. I believe the method of solving this problem is through education (not legislation). I actually believe it should be a parent’s decision to circumcise or not circumcise (legally); but I believe, given the right education, the right decision is to not circumcise (ethically). I’m not extremely mad at parents who choose to mutilate their children’s genitalia. I excuse them for being ignorant, to some extent.

    I believe the passion on the part of those who believe in circumcision comes primarily from the desire to avoid feeling guilt. They are psychologically resistant to logically evaluating objective facts because they don’t want to find out their justifications for mutilating their child are unfounded, causing them to have to feel regret for having mutilated their child for strictly social or self-serving reasons. Therefore, they search for medical evidence to support their decision, they emotionally combat people who attempt to prove them wrong, or they attempt to remain ignorant, so they don’t have to feel accountable.

    I don’t actually believe parents typically circumcise their child for medical reasons. I believe they circumcise their child for social reasons and they look for medical reasons to justify their decision.

    I believe the passion on the part of those who don’t believe in circumcision comes primarily from their sympathy for other humans and their desire to stop people from physically harming other people.

    I don’t think you circumcised your son. I don’t think you would entertain this topic so extensively if you DID circumcise your son. You would avoid finding out you unnecessarily mutilated your son in order to avoid any potential guilt. I believe the reason you refused to say one way or the other was to attempt to be perceived as neutral in order to encourage (seemingly) unbiased conversation. Good job on not circumcising your son! You helped break the cycle.

    1. Crusty,
      Thank you for your comment. My opinions are in my post and you may take from them what you want…you seem to have made some assumptions from it instead. I’m sure parents who have circumcised their children will sleep better at night knowing you excuse their ignorance. Thanks for posting.

      1. Ryan, I would still like to hear your answer to the question, ‘Do you still believe a parent’s decision is the right decision when it comes to mutilating female genitalia?’ I would just like to hear if you would still believe ‘the parent’s decision is the right decision.’

        This is not combat. I’m not being emotional. This is a conversation. I would be interested in hearing your response to that question.

        On excusing ignorance…let me clarify… I understand that some people make the wrong decision because they are not informed. Within myself (it has nothing to do with them and how they feel or sleep), I choose not to feel any negative emotion toward them (for my own benefit), due to the fact that they were uninformed (ignorant) on this topic.

        Yes, I read your opinions and made some assumptions (I’d say “theories”). Then I made some probing statements. I don’t see how that’s a problem.

      2. Crusty,
        You are asking me, ‘Do you still believe a parent’s decision is the right decision when it comes to mutilating female genitalia?’ I don’t recall making that statement and I fear you are taking an assumption and adding it to my words out of context. My beliefs are made clear in my posts as are yours in your comments. It is hard to have a neutral conversation openly about something when the person on the other side of the conversation has already deemed it “wrong” and based the reasoning as “ignorance.” However, I would love to hear you elaborate on your legal vs. moral ethics statement in your initial quote. Thanks again for commenting.

      3. From your original post “I believe the right decision, when it comes to circumcising or not, is whatever decision the parents make.”

        Would you say the same thing if we were to put “female genital mutilation” in the place of “circumcision” (male genital mutilation)?

        The purpose of conversational debate is for each side to present its opinions and then to talk about it. If it was neutral (nobody had an opinion), then there wouldn’t be a reason to debate. “Everyone is entitled to their opinion and opinions are not wrong…they may be different from your opinion…but they are still opinions.” My opinion is that people who mutilate their children’s genitalia do it mostly for social reasons and they justify it by saying it was medically necessary. I believe it is scientifically unfounded to believe genital mutilation is necessary, and therefore, people who believe that way lack the knowledge to believe otherwise. In other words, they are ignorant on the topic, or they have a degree of ignorance on the topic which prevents them from making an informed, rational decision.

        Please answer the question about female genital mutilation and explain why my opinions about social rewards based decisions and ignorance are wrong.

      4. Crusty,
        I’m not going to answer your question. As I have said in my blog many times there are some things that will remain private. I say this because I am writing openly as myself. My name is Ryan. I am not hiding behind an alias like “Crusty The Ambulance Driver,” I am 100% accountable for the opinions I express online. Your opinions honestly scare me after reviewing your site and I pray I never need a ride in a Houston Fire Department Ambulance. Your posts about how you are racist, how you tell stories and share pictures of real people’s tragedies, and make a mockery of the 911 system is appalling to me.

        You have not tried to have a conversation here, you have attempted to bate me into saying something by twisting words. I think I will end our “conversation” here by saying that my opinions and beliefs are well represented in my posts and you and anyone are entitled to disagree with them. You may draw whatever conclusions you like from them but I’ve had my fill of a “conversation” with the coward who hides opinions behind a fake name.

        Have a good night, please don’t kill anyone with your ambulance, and if I need to get a hold of you I’ll call 911 and ask for “Crusty.”

  15. That was actually quite libelous, Ryan W. Gates. I don’t ever remember claiming to be a racist or sharing stories and pictures of real people’s tragedies. I’m not even an ambulance driver. If your real name is keeping you from being honest and forthright, you may want to consider adopting an alias, like over half the people who have commented on this post.

    I fully understand why your prior conversations on this topic degenerated into inflammatory arguments. Your responses are very emotionally charged, you attempt to discredit by name-calling, and you very intentionally attempt to derail arguments by emotionally responding to insignificant aspects of a comment. You may want to work on that.

    You could call it baiting. But I was just trying to find out if you believe female genital mutilation and male genital mutilation are equally acceptable. I was genuinely interested in hearing what you might think about that…not to call you names, just because I thought it was an interesting question, and a potentially interesting answer. I didn’t think it would be that difficult to respond to, even without using an alias. This leads me to make several assumptions. I know how you love assumptions.

    I don’t think you’ll actually post this comment, but I would hope you do. It will probably actually work in your favor…make me look like an evil, argumentative, ‘baiter.’

  16. To my subscribers and readers of this post:

    Crusty decided to delete his URL from his profile (CrustyAmbulanceDriver.blogspot.com) where he blogs about “Black People Concentrations and Busiest Fire Stations in Houston,” he posts instructional pictures on how to correctly shoot yourself in the head and mocks the fiancee of a suicide victim he was attending to saying, “…we were discussing our equally sick reasons for wanting to see the fiancee arrive at the house, the fiancee snuck by us, and we missed her. Later we found out that she started crying hysterically, and she wanted to see the body, but the police wouldn’t let her,” and he posts pictures of victims such as a man killed changing the tire on his van when his jack failed.

    I point this out because of how my conversation deteriorated with “Crusty” rapidly. Yes, all comments go through moderation on this blog but moderating is only reserved for comments that add no value and are inappropriate. I think “Crusty’s” comments were informative in their own way so they have not been moderated at all. Very few comments in the history of this site have been moderated other than a death threat and senseless slander of family. In my opinion “Crusty’s” comments are the “how not to” of commenting. I think they degrade any validity they may have by his choice of words such as calling people “ignorant.” Having read his blog and the type of “writing” he is accustomed to I chose not to enter into a conversation with him. He accuses me of being “emotionally-charged” in some of my posts and comments which I would agree with…I am emotionally-charged when it comes to my family, my wife, and my son. My emotion is where my writing comes from. As far as name-calling? I truly believe “Crusty” is a racist crazy-person based on what he has shared via his blog and his public comments. I absolutely derailed “Crusty’s” argument as that was all it was going to be…an argument. If you would like to argue or agree with “Crusty” about this topic, how I handled this, or any other topic…I’m sure he would happily talk with you on his site at:

    CrustyAmbulanceDriver.blogspot.com

    For those of you seeking information on circumcision there is a wealth of it out there. There are people adamantly for it and those adamantly against it. There are those who are unsure. There is a wealth of great information in the comments on this post as well as URL’s from other writers where you can learn a plethora of knowledge. The hard part is deciding what you feel is right. Good luck out there, I hope you find the answers you are looking for and make an informed decision in the end that is morally, ethically, and legally right. Thank you.

  17. This post has been on my mind the last few months, as we anticipated the arrival of our second son. As you may recall, I posted on this originally saying how we regretted our decision to circumsize our first son. In the end, we decided to not circumsize our new baby and have no regrets so far. He is just over a week old and seems much happier than his brother was at this age after his circumcision. I’m sure we’ll have to explain this to the boys in the future, but I guess we’ll figure it out when the time comes.

    1. That will definitely be an interesting conversation and as your boys come of age, it would be great if you’d be willing to share any of your experiences. You have a unique vantage point to both sides of the spectrum. Would love to talk to you more about it offline sometime. Congratulations on the new baby! Parenting is full of tough decisions and your wondering if you are making the right decisions is proof you are doing great. Lucky kids!

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